By  on September 21, 2006

PARIS — Chanel — whose Paris fashion shows have featured towering stairwells, rotating bleachers or a pop-out orchestra — appears to have outdone itself in the venue department.

The French fashion and beauty giant has commissioned acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid to envision a collapsible, futuristic building for an art-related project that will travel around the world.

Details about the exhibition are not available — the mobile museum has yet to be constructed — but Karl Lagerfeld, a fan of Hadid's work, gave WWD a preview of her "traveling pavilion."

With an interior skeleton of steel ribs, and a shell of fiberglass-reinforced plastic etched in a grid pattern in homage to Chanel, the gleaming white structure calls to mind a luxury spacecraft from some far-off fashion galaxy.

"For me, this woman is pure genius," Lagerfeld said of Hadid. "At the same time, she's tough and fun."

Lagerfeld, who has sat numerous celebrities on an undulating Hadid settee in his photography studio, characterized her computer-generated designs as so "absolutely new" that it often takes years until technology is available to realize them. "In the future, I think the world will look like hers," he quipped.

Thanks to a giant central skylight, natural light is mixed with artificial light to emphasize the arched shape of the structure and a series of interior "membranes."

Boasting exhibition space of more than 6,000 square feet, the 7,500-square-foot pavilion will also house a cafeteria, cloakroom, reception area and restrooms.

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